Objective: Pareidolias are ilusionary misjudgments and are seen as the result of deliberately or unconsciously caused misinterpretations by the human brain, which tends to complete diffuse and apparently incomplete perceptual images. The psychopathological value of pareidolia in the context of neuropsychiatric diseases has, however, been little researched so far. Methods: In this pilot study, a total of 25 patients (mean age 43.3 years, SD 16.2) with an affective disorder or schizophrenic disease (ICD-10: F3.X or F2.X) and 25 healthy volunteers (mean age 46.1 years, SD 15.4) were compared for sociodemographic factors and psychometric findings, as well as pareidolias and creativity. Results: We found that the patients identified significantly fewer pareidolias than healthy controls (p = 0.002) and that patients with schizophrenia, in particular, had a significantly lower hit rate (p = 0.005). Across the whole group, there were clear positive correlations between pareidolia and high creativity, as well as personality traits such as impulsiveness/spontaneity, extraversion, and conscientiousness. Conclusions: Unexpectedly, having less nosology-specific features than individual specific properties such as creativity and extraversion, and especially openness and verbal intelligence, in patients with affective disorder or schizophrenia promotes the recognition of pareidolia as a specific form of illusionary misperception.

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